Self-Psychotherapy: A Q&A with Director Adrian Sitaru
16.10.2011 - Romanian filmmaker Adrian
Sitaru rides a wave of acclaim to the Middle East premiere of his
Best Intentions, a wryly observant drama about a
thirtysomething man who experiences a prolonged anxiety attack when
his mother is hospitalized with a stroke. In fine Romanian
tradition, Best Intentions uses blunt realism and clever
dialogue laced with brittle sarcasm to expose the neurotic and
dysfunctional side of life in the country in the wake of the
notorious Cold War police state.
At ADFF, Best Intentions competes in the Festival's
New Horizons Competition. In August, Sitaru won the award for
Best Director at the Locarno International Film Festival in Italy,
high praise for only his second feature (he debuted with the
award-winning Hooked in 2007). The film's star Bogdan
Dumitrache also took home Locarno's Best Actor prize. Sitaru has
now firmly established himself as one of the standout directors of
the Romanian New Wave that launched in the mid-2000s and has put an
international spotlight on filmmakers like Cristian Mungiu (4
Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) and Corneliu
Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest).
Sitaru, who is scheduled to attend ADFF for his film's
screenings, took some time to answer a few questions about Best
Intentions and its place in Romanian cinema.
In your view, what has made Romanian cinema so
Simple but deep stories. It's a kind of miracle, producing 10 or
15 films every year (even less if you go back to around the year
2000), and each year at least one has become very successful. It's
not so easy! On the other hand, what does it mean to be successful?
Romanian cinema is indeed great for film critics and for festivals
as well, but not at all so good in terms of sales.
How do you connect it to the other cinemas of the
I'm not sure if it's connected with the cinema of the Balkans or
Eastern Europe. Actually I don't know much about what's happening
in this part of the world - it has very little exposure in Romanian
cinemas or even on TV.
Who are your influences and inspirations?
I usually don't like to give names because are too many. But for
sure I would say some films from Dogme 95, Tarkovsky, Fellini,
Bergman - and I can't forget one of my biggest influences,
Can you talk about the development of Best
Intentions - where did the story come from, and how did the
characters develop, especially the highly anxious
It's an autobiographical story. It really happened in 2007 with my
mother, and the son is me. I tried to follow quite exactly the
events and the characters; but of course I made some small changes
to help the story. But mainly, especially for the main character,
there was not any development. I just tried to find out - from many
points of view and making it into a kind of psychotherapy - what
exactly happened to me to make me react that way. I tried to find
some answers for my behavior from a perspective of universal human
How does the story connect to contemporary Romanian
I think there's only a small connection with Romanian society.
While researching for my story, I realized that the anxiety of the
main character, the behavior of the other characters and the theme
of my story are all quite universal. It's not a film about Romania
or about the Romanian health care system; it's a film about the
fear of losing what we love - the fear that this moment will come
someday with certainty. But I also tried to see the light part of
the story, the funny situations, the absurdity of people's
How do you think audiences in Abu Dhabi will receive
It will be a very good kind of feedback for me to see whether the
audience will react the way they do in Romania or European
countries - to see if the black humor will make them laugh and,
whether will be some empathy with the characters. This will be my
first time in an Arabic country, and I'm really curious and excited
about the reactions.
Best Intentions screens at ADFF on Monday, October 17 at
8:30 pm and Wednesday, October 19 at 4:15 pm at Marina Mall's VOX